Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reflections in the Dark

I love being out and about in the dark! There is something so peaceful about it. Now, I am not talking about having your car break-down in the middle of nowhere at 2AM. Or being stranded in a crime-ridden part of a big city after dark. Or being lost on the plains of the Serengeti on foot in the middle of the night, listening to lions roar and hyenas laugh as they get closer and closer.

But walking or running miles in the early morning darkness is entirely different. Or if I were filling out a dating profile, it would certainly include the standard cliché “likes moon light walks on the beach”. Or camping out in a remote place, miles from anywhere, with only the stars for illumination – even better with a friend or two - those are the things I am talking about.

So this morning, when I woke at 5:15 and had a chance to get in a fast four mile walk before work, I took advantage of it. I enjoy the solitude of this time of day, the quiet, the inky darkness. There is no TV, no noise, and even though I love music dearly, no iPod – too dangerous not to have all of your senses on alert going along even quiet streets. It gives me a chance to reflect on things in my life, on what the day ahead might bring. This morning, because of a situation at work, I thought about that for a while, trying to think through long-term solutions. I don’t want to share the specifics with the entire World Wide Web, but it has been on my mind a lot. I didn’t come up with any solutions, but at least I got to think about it away from a stressful place.

It was totally dark this morning – no moonlight at all. Because of heavy rains over the weekend, the path through the woods I travel on for 0.4 miles of this route was heavily rutted, and even slowing my walking pace, I almost turned an ankle twice on the unseen ruts. Out of the wooded area and on the way back home, it was getting marginally less dark and I could see clearly along the roads. Back in my own neighborhood after 6:00, there was enough light to be able to finally discern colors.

It was on a walk like this about a year ago that the idea for my 2008-2009 TNT fundraising came to me out of the blue, like a furball in the night! As I walked along, I drafted complete ideas in my mind for my first two notes to potential donors and wrote out an outline later that day, knowing that would lead to other notes as my campaign progressed.

It was in March of 2005 during my first TNT experience that I was in a small city far away for work on a morning where I needed to walk 10 miles to stay on schedule. I started out from the motel before 5AM, with no clue of where to head. After 4 miles of weaving through neighborhoods, I came on a path that crossed the road and realized that it was the Virginia Creeper Trail. Even though it was still jet black, I decided to walk on it for two miles each way. It was a unique experience, walking on a footpath through the woods by myself in the dark. All of my senses were fully aware. I could hear streams babbling in the early spring, and frogs called out in their eagerness to attract mates. On the way back, the first distant hints of daylight appeared and I saw 4 deer run across the path. All these years later, it still ranks as one of my coolest TNT training memories.

Back at the hotel, one of my coworkers who had made the trip with me asked me if I had been scared. I admitted I had been a little worried about blundering into a skunk in the darkness. “Did you carry a knife?” she asked. “A knife won’t help with a skunk,” I replied. “No – a knife in case you run into people like you!” was her retort. “Think about this, Betty,” I said. “Someone running into a guy, dressed all in black, moving quietly along a trail through the woods in the dark – are they going to give him any trouble?” She had to agree that maybe I was right – but I could tell that she still thought that I was a little crazy.

Getting back to today, it was a great start to the day. I got some exercise, it was relatively cool compared to recent mornings, and I got to reflect a bit in the darkness. Not a bad combo, in this man’s opinion.


Cheryl said...

Hi Art.....I am by nature an early riser....I am often walking my dog while others are still dreaming.....but I do not walk in the dark......I have a vivid imagination......

Your writings did make me smile though....and I felt as though I walked with you.......thank you for letting me accompany you

Do hope work worries are sorted soon......

Racn4acure said...

Hi Cheryl - thanks for the comments and well wishes. I like being out and about early as well, most days. Always something to hear or see. enjoy the day.

Elayne said...

Hi Art!
I am by nature NOT a morning person and run at night ( still in the dark) except for Saturday mornings for our long runs. It really is such a beautiful and peaceful time. Even without coffee :)
Hope things at work are better, and I agree with your co-worker you are crazy walking that trail alone in the dark. i would be so scared!
Stay safe my friend!